University of Pittsburgh
March 18, 2008

Pitt's Kuntu Repertory Theatre Presents Lavender Lizards and Lilac Landmines: Layla's Dream

Production by renowned author Ntozake Shange is a blend of poetry, prose, song, dance, movement, and music

Sharon Blake


Cell: 412-277-6926

PITTSBURGH-The University of Pittsburgh's Kuntu Repertory Theatre presents Ntozake Shange's "Lavender Lizards and Lilac Landmines: Layla's Dream" from March 20 to April 5. All performances are in the Seventh-Floor Auditorium of Alumni Hall, 4227 Fifth Ave., Oakland. Performances are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m., with Sunday matinees at 4 p.m. Ticket prices are $20 for adults, with discounts for students, groups, and seniors. For more information, call 412-624-7298 or visit

"Layla's Dream" is a choreopoem-a form of theatrical expression developed by Shange that combines poetry, prose, song, dance, movement, and music. It emerges from African performance traditions that emphasize community, storytelling, physical movement, and emotional catharsis. The production is directed by Vernell Lillie, Kuntu's founder and producing artistic director and associate professor emerita of Africana Studies. It is choreographed by Candice Smith, cochoreographer of Kuntu's award-winning production "Sarafina!"

"Layla's Dream" tells the story of Layla LaPierre, a character who first appeared in Shange's play, "Boogie Woogie Landscapes." A Black woman in her 20s aspiring to be a writer, LaPierre is having trouble breaking up with her manipulative boyfriend, Yves. She is visited by several spirits-people from her life and characters from her dreams-that challenge her to explore her own needs and desires.

The cast includes Candice Smith (Layla) and Ruel Davis (Yves) with Durosaire Bakova, Ben Blakey, Lamont Chatman, Eric Eghan, Leslie Howard, Tyrone Johnson, Mamothena Mothupi, Sahara Nzongola, Patricia Olaleye, and Jacob Williams.

Shange is the author of "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," which played on Broadway from 1976 to 1978. It won an Obie Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, and the Audelco Award. It also was nominated for a Tony Award, Grammy Award, and Emmy Award. Shange wrote and oversaw the production of "Lavender Lizards and Lilac Landmines: Layla's" Dream while serving as a visiting artist at the University of Florida, Gainesville, in 2003. Shange was born Paulette Williams in 1948, but changed her name in 1971. Taken from the Zulu language, "Ntozake" means "she who comes with her own things" and "Shange" means "she who walks like a lion."

Kuntu is celebrating 33 years of Black theater with a 2007-08 season of new plays and old favorites.